As a manufacturer, you understand the complexities that come with producing customized products like cabinets, furniture, doors, and windows. From managing multiple options and configurations to ensuring efficient order processing and accurate bill of materials (BOM), the challenges can be overwhelming.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into how product configuration software functions as part of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to simplify the manufacturing processes, using the example of a customizable sofa.
Understanding the Sofa Customization Process
Let’s consider a scenario where customers can personalize a sofa by selecting from the following options:
- Arm style: 3 options
- Leg style: 4 options
- Leg color: 3 options
- Leg material: 2 options
- Back options: 2 choices
- Seat cushions: 3 options
- Seat fill: 2 options
- Fabric type: 2 options
- Fabric color/pattern: 10 options
- Sofa length: 2 options
If every option were available on every order, there would be 34,560 different ways to build one sofa!
More typically, selecting the leg style might dictate the leg material and limit the color options. It’s difficult to keep track of, and more difficult to manage efficiently and without errors. In fact, it’s why product configuration software was developed in the first place.
How product configuration software works
Keeping with our sofa example, here are four key things that product configuration software does to help your business:
1. Streamline Product Customization
A product configuration tool integrated with the ERP software system empowers customers, sales representatives, or designers to easily configure sofas by selecting options from a predefined set. For example, a customer might choose Arm style 1, Leg style 4, Leg color 2, etc. The configuration tool ensures that only valid and compatible options are selected.
2. Automate Engineering and Design Validation
One of the major challenges in customized manufacturing is ensuring that the selected options are compatible and structurally sound. With a product configuration tool, the software automatically validates the selected options against predefined rules. This automation significantly reduces the risk of design errors and ensures a smooth manufacturing process.
3. Efficient Order Management
Integrating the product configuration tool with the ERP system streamlines the entire order management process. Orders are accurately tracked, changes are managed efficiently, and specifications are communicated in real-time throughout the production process.
If the selected sofa fabric is out of stock, it cannot be ordered unless your ERP has communicated with the supplier and there is an expected delivery date. The configurator ERP combination will generate work orders and purchase orders automatically, providing real-time visibility into order status. This eliminates delays and enhances customer satisfaction.
4. Simplify Bill of Materials (BOM) Management
A customizable sofa with multiple options requires a complex BOM. Manually managing the BOM can lead to mistakes, inconsistencies, and difficulties in ensuring the availability of required materials. The product configuration tool automates the generation of the BOM based on the selected options.
Since it’s connected to your system, product configuration software eliminates manual errors and ensures accurate material planning, procurement, and inventory management.
Key Benefits for Complex Manufacturing Operations
We’ve discussed how product configuration software works. Now let’s look more closely at the benefits of implementing a product configurator that is part of your ERP software system.
1. Enhance Operational Efficiency
Streamlining manufacturing operations through a product configuration tool optimizes resource allocation, reduces rework and scrap, and minimizes lead times. It enables effective capacity planning, production scheduling, and optimized use of labor and equipment, resulting in improved productivity and cost reduction.
2. Improve Accuracy and Quality
By automating validation and generating manufacturing data and images, the product configuration tool reduces the risk of errors, improves design accuracy, and ensures the consistency and quality of the final product. This leads to higher customer satisfaction, reduced returns, and warranty claims.
3. Better Supply Chain Management
Integrating the product configuration tool with your ERP system facilitates seamless collaboration with suppliers and streamlines the procurement process. It enables accurate forecasting, optimized inventory levels, and improved supplier performance management, resulting in cost savings and reduced lead times.
Configurator Software is a Must-Have for Complex Manufacturing
As software developers for manufacturers, we understand and have responded to the complexities of producing customized products like sofas, cabinets, windows, and other highly configurable products. Implementing product configuration software like the one at the heart of Frontier ERP software will simplify your manufacturing process significantly.
By streamlining product customization, automating engineering validation, and enhancing order management and BOM accuracy, furniture, cabinet, door, and window manufacturers can achieve higher operational efficiency, improve quality, and streamline supply chain management. Embracing product configuration software tools within your ERP is the key to thriving as a manufacturer of customizable products.
Contact us today for more information or to arrange a demo.